SEC: Gary Pinkel, The Underappreciated Coach

    Gary Pinkel has led Mizzou to two straight SEC East Division Titles, yet a majority of SEC fans couldn't pick him out of a lineup.

    July 15, 2015

    Quick!  Name the head
    coach of the two-time defending SEC Eastern Division Champions Missouri
    Tigers.  Can you?  Can the majority of SEC fans?  I’m not so sure.

    This was his fourth SEC Media Days, and he could most likely
    still walk the lobby of the Hyatt in Hoover unnoticed.  He looks way younger than 63 years of age,
    almost as if he could still line up at tight end for Kent State, his alma
    mater.

    The name you are looking for is Gary Pinkel, and he has
    quietly transitioned Missouri from Big-12 finesse team to a defensive-minded
    SEC power.

    Pinkel stated that the program is “Mizzou Made”, meaning
    that while he might not get the five-star recruits most SEC programs hoard,
    those players that come to Columbia that work hard will become a player.

    “They don’t have to be great football players (when they
    arrive),” Pinkel said.  “We can teach
    them how to be great football players.”

    The Tigers can score the ball too, but it is their defense,
    led by back-to-back SEC Defensive Players of the Year in Michael Sam and Shane
    Ray, that has helped them reach Atlanta two out of their three years as a SEC
    member.

    Missouri’s success under Pinkel is nothing new, either.  After taking over the struggling Tiger
    program in 2001, Missouri has had five ten-win seasons, including 23 wins in
    the last two seasons.  Pinkel holds the
    record for all-time wins at Missouri – he also holds that record at Toledo –
    and is in the top five of wins by active coaches.

    “We have to be doing something right,” Pinkel said on
    Wednesday. 

    So why is Pinkel not mentioned in the same breath as his
    successful SEC colleagues?  There could
    be a few reasons:

          
    For all of its success the past two years,
    Missouri is still an outsider in the SEC, and seen as a team that won the
    Eastern Division due only to the division’s weakness.  It doesn’t help that the Tigers lost by a
    combined 46 points in the two SEC Championship games.

        
    In a conference full of big personalities,
    Pinkel just does his job.  While Nick
    Saban, Les Miles and Steve Spurrier get the headlines, Pinkel continues to
    work.  Think I am wrong?  Just take a look at what coaches get the most
    coverage during this week.

        
    Titles, Titles and Titles!  Those two division titles are nice, but it
    pales in comparison to the other coaches in the league.  Three – Spurrier, Saban and Miles – have
    national titles on their resume, while Gus Malzahn was the key architect in
    Auburn’s 2010 title when serving as offensive coordinator and led the Tigers to
    the 2013 national title game as head coach. 

    Rest assured, if Missouri keep on winning and break through
    with a SEC Championship, Pinkel will start to receive the attention he
    deserves.  Until then, we are stuck
    looking at pictures of Spurrier working out shirtless and Nick Saban on a boat
    instead of reading of one of the top coaches in college football.

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